The Guardian 19 October, 2005

Immigration Department paid for "results"

Documents revealing that the Immigration Department was paid financial bonuses to detain and deport so-called "illegal immigrants" show that there are no depths the Howard Government won’t stoop to when fomenting racism and abusing human rights.

The documents reveal that in 2001 — at the height of the Tampa crisis — the Department of Immigration was receiving extra funding per person in detention.

The revelations were made public by Tony Burke, the ALP spokesperson for immigration.

Speaking on ABC Radio’s AM program, Mr Burke said, "What’s clear now is that the Department of Immigration was running on a model that provided financial incentives to behave in the worst possible way."

"Extra payments to the Department for the days individuals were in detention, extra money for the Department for the number of people who were removed in Australia.

"The culture of the Department was being driven by some direct financial modelling."

Questioned in Parliament, Immigration Minster Amanda Vanstone said the system of funding was discontinued at the end of June 2001.

The funding arrangement now provides extra insight into the action of Immigration officials in the case of Australian citizen Vivian Alvarez Solon, who was wrongfully detained and then hurriedly deported in July of that year.

Mr Burke said, "There’s no doubt that the culture that was in place in June 2001 would have continued into July 2001.... Even if it was dumped at the end of June you don’t get culture of change in a matter of days."

"Measures like bonuses for deportation are what we’ve come to expect with this Government", said Democrats spokesperson Andrew Bartlett.

"This is yet another example of how the Government has effectively poisoned the culture of DIMIA through its abhorrent and inhumane policies."

"There is no incentive for getting it right only one for getting it wrong and being seen to address a non-existent problem."

Just three months later the Howard Government was re-elected for a third term. It road back into office off a racist scare campaign giving the picture that Australia was being swamped by asylum seekers and illegal immigrants.

Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone has issued no formal statement in response to the accusations.

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